The New England Patriots dominated the Washington Redskins on Sunday, and came out with another blowout victory to finish their perfect first half of the regular season, defeating Washington 27-10. Washington's lone touchdown came in garbage time.
Here are five things we learned from the win:
Patriots can dominate in a sloppy game. Despite the large margin of victory, this was a sloppy game for the Patriots, particularly in the first half. Dion Lewis had an egregious drop on the opening drive (although the Patriots would still score on a Tom Brady to Julian Edelman catch and run). Julian Edelman fumbled the ball in Redskins' territory. Tom Brady had his first at fault interception of the year, near the Washington red zone. Despite all the mistakes (and Washington certainly had their fare share too), the Patriots maintained their composure, and showed that they can dominate even when all the breaks don't go their way.
Patriots offensive line is in shambles, but still getting it done. The Patriots went into the game with just six healthy offensive lineman, two of which were offensive tackles. One of those offensive tackles, Sebastian Vollmer, missed the entire second half with a head injury. That left the Patriots with just five lineman, one of who was already injured in Shaq Mason. The Patriots had Bryan Stork shift out to right tackle, and shifted Cameron Fleming over to left tackle. The Patriots also rotated in 6-6 tight end Michael Williams in at right tackle as well. Somehow, perhaps because the Patriots were able to call the game conservatively, it worked. Stork did a solid job against Ryan Kerrigan, Wiliams opened some lanes for LeGarrette Blount, and the Patriots barely missed a beat. At some point, these injuries will catch up with the team, and they need to get some bodies back soon.
Injury bug hits hard for the Patriots. While the Patriots did get the victory, they paid a serious price. We touched on the Vollmer injury in the last section, but New England also had running back Dion Lewis go down early in the second half, and safety Duron Harmon go down late in the game. Lewis' injury was to his left knee, and was non-contact, which is always scary. Brandon Bolden took Lewis' place as the team's passing back with James White being a healthy scratch.
New England's offense can be very well balanced. One of the biggest storylines from today's game was how well balanced the Patriots were on the offensive side of the ball. The Patriots ran the ball 37 times compared to throwing it 39. The Redskins are not a good team at stopping the run, and the Patriots adjusted their game plan to that. LeGarrette Blount was phenomenal, rushing the ball a career time 28 times for 129 yards and a touchdown. While the Patriots have been a pass-heavy team in 2015, their ability to adjust their game plan on the fly makes them that much more dangerous.
New England's defense continues to quietly dominate. The Patriots defense had another quietly dominating game today. They allowed just three points - 10 if you count a garbage time score in the game's closing seconds. New England dominated at the point of attack yet again. Rob Ninkovich continued his resurgence at setting the edge. Alan Branch was active and forced a fumble. Chandler Jones picked up another sack. Running back Matt Jones had just 27 yards on 11 carries as Washington managed just 2.5 YPC. Against the pass, the Patriots did benefit from a ton of drops by Washington receivers, but managed to effectively take DeSean Jackson out of the game, and only allowed a single pass play more than 20 yards. Justin Coleman had a beautiful deflection, Logan Ryan had an interception off of a dropped Pierre Garcon pass, and Malcolm Butler drew the task of covering Jackson and excelled. Safety Patrick Chung also did an excellent job containing Jordan Reed.